Your questions answered: About my painting technique
I use multiple methods for multiple effects
Some of the most common questions I am asked revolve around my technique: Do I consider myself a realist? An impressionist? Something else?
The answer is that I am all of these, depending on the effect I want to attain.
I try not to approach my work with a predetermined technique; rather, when I see or experience something for the first time, I observe it with as many sensory abilities as possible, using my impulses to explore the subject matter.
Using this exploratory process enables me to see with a fresh eye in order to find new and creative ways to express what I am experiencing.
Discerning the nature of a painting’s elements
When I taught art classes, one of the main things that I wanted my students to learn was that different parts of the painting have different “spirits,” that is to say: every element in the painting has unique qualities inherent to it that other elements do not possess.
For example, in my painting, Navajo Finery compare how the texture of the wool of the blanket appears soft and tactile while the subject’s skin looks smooth and firm.
Achieving these differences goes to the beginning of the exploratory process: I allow the initial impulses I get when observing and sketching a painting’s thematic elements to define the final outcome of appearance and texture.
Using a variety of tools
Since each component of a painting has a different attributes, I use numerous tools necessary to make these features distinctive.
Again, in Navajo Finery, compare the thick impasto background (applied with a palette knife) to the drape-y folds of the man’s tunic (paintedwith brushes).
I may use dozens of tools for one painting: multiple palettes; knives; and hog-hair, sable, and synthetic brushes.
Making an emotional connection
You may be wondering why I would go to so much work to highlight the differences in each element of my Plains Indians, Apache, and Navajo Native American images.
The reason is simple: having a rich visual surface helps the viewer connect with the painting—and emotional connections with art mean that the owner will love the work every time he or she sees it.
Art enthusiasts: Are you interested in adding one of my paintings to your collection? Please see my James Ayers Available Paintings page.